Celebrating life of community dynamo

By Mitch Gaynor

Maleny remembers incredible contribution of Gail Denver

MALENY has celebrated the legacy of community dynamo, Gail Denver.
About 200 people attended the Maleny District Sports and Recreation Club on Saturday, October 21, under clear blue skies as family, friends and community marked the life of Gail who passed away on September 30, aged 67.
From her unwavering commitment to friends, family and community, the successful impersonation of an Ashes cricket wife, her pathological fear of horror movies and the time she accidentally ran over her Nanna, her life was full with love and adventure, the service heard.
“My sister loved life,” Gail’s brother, Simon Denver, said.
“She sucked the marrow from the bones of life. She loved it.”
Nieces, Isis and Rhiannon, said they remembered their aunt – fondly remembered as Gaggles, Gags, Miss G or Gailey – as having an unquenchable drive to care for those around her.
“We can confidently say Gail was the heart of our family and no words will ever give her life, love and warmth enough credit,” they said.
“She laughed at the little things and big things and laughed at the hard things and even laughed and smiled at the things that would break a normal human.
They recalled out adventures and stories followed Gail wherever she went, including the time she received her first driver’s license, but hadn’t quite mastered the art of driving a large 4WD.
“She accidentally backed over her Nanna but then couldn’t quite work out where the ‘Gail! Gail! You’ve run me over!’ was coming from,” the girls said. Nanna was okay.

They also told of Gail’s optimism in the face of adversity.
“Many of you would know she beat cancer before – not once but twice.
“This time around had a different outcome but she simply said: ‘Well beating the first one gave me 30 fabulous years, and it gave me Tommy’.
“While they say you can’t share grief, you can share love.”
Some of Gail’s quirks included a deep fear of horror movies and Simon recalled a day he came to visit and found her screaming behind four pillows while watching the television.
“She was watching Ghostbusters,” he said.
While speaking about Gail’s community achievements, friend and colleague, Max Whitten, told of the time Gail and Simon bluffed their way into the member’s pavilion at the Gabba for the 1988 Ashes. Gail posed as the wife of English fast bowler Graham Dilley in order to achieve their ruse.
“Somehow, Gail did manage to pull it off. With brother Simon in toe, Simon posturing as a journalist from the Yorkshire Post, together there they were, sipping ‘gin and tonics and munching cucumber sandwiches’, away from the hoi polloi, admiring her husband bag five wickets,” Max explained.
“The Gabba caper give us a glimpse of the cheeky, adventurous, fun-loving Gail. Gail was always fun to be with. You looked forward to an event, if you knew Gail would be there.”
Gail was born in Hull, England but lived in Maleny for over 40 years.
In that time she was instrumental in the creation of new community groups and the support of many others.
The creation of Friends of Pattemore House was one such organisation, which is now a rich celebration of the town’s heritage.
Other organisations she contributed to over the years include the MDSRC, Maleny Croquet Club, Maleny Players, Maleny Junior Cricket, the Maleny Show Society (where she was a beef steward for over 30 years), Maleny Australia Day Expo and the Maleny Selectors Green committee.
Gail was an influential participant in the Precinct Advisory Group – established in 2008 – which resulted in the Precinct Masterplan providing space for the MDSRC.
Her dedication to the community was also clear in the production of the weekly MDSRC newsletter. She dedicated every Monday for 15 years to producing the newsletter to keep residents up to date with issues, history and events in the area.
In March, Zonta recognised Gail’s extensive contribution to the community by awarding her the Zonta Club of Blackall Ranges 2023 Woman of Achievement.
Max also described Gail as a true community leader.
“Without a shadow of doubt, Gail was a combination of a leader who we loved and the leaders who empowers a team without fanfare,” he said.
“Gail had a unique ability to make each of us feel special, important and relevant. Gail’s rapport with each of us was so positive and embracing.”
“All of us here together today are part of Gail’s extended family.”
Max said her drive and dedication to the preservation of the region’s heritage was second to none and shone brightest with Friends of Pattemore House.
“Gail was convinced if we understood the past, it would enrich the present and position us better to face the future,” Max said, adding her persistence to preserve Pattemore House was not without its challenges.
“It so happened that another group coveted the heritage-listed house as a solution to their lack of a home base,” he said.
“This posed a serious threat to the survival of the homestead as a unique reminder of Maleny’s early days.

A small team, mainly Sue Carbery, Gail, and Penny (Edwards), mounted a campaign which promptly torpedoed this early threat.
“They may be called “The Friends” but you meddle with Bomber Command at your peril!
“And the results are there to see – professional and informative displays about early Maleny.”
Max said there were many projects either completed or underway “that bear the imprint of the vision and creativity, positivity and boundless energy of Gail”.
“I’m sure there would be unfinished business for Gail had she lived to 100,” he said.“But like Mozart, who achieved so much in his short life yet left a legacy that was immortal. Gail has made a lasting contribution to the wellbeing of her community by her lifetime of community service.
“We have lost a sister and a dear friend. But we can secure Gail’s legacy by emulating her example and actively supporting one of the many causes dear to Gail’s heart and soul.”

My Gail

The night of your birth was shaken by a tremendous storm.
And as the world trembled at its power, the chosen name was forgotten and changed, to the one spelled out by the elements.
Changed from the dignified Elizabeth, to Gail.
Gail the storm.
My darling mercurial Gail.
Thankyou my beautiful daughter for sharing your 67 years with me.
You offered me unconditional love so generously given from an open heart.
An unshakeable belief that we could take on the world and sometimes we did.
You’ve gone from this world, but you’re still with me; a pure and strong presence giving me comfort.
Goodbye my precious child; my first born.
We had a very special relationship.
Goodbye my Gail.
Jo Denver

For the love of a good life

“My sister loved life. She sucked the marrow from the bones of life.”
“She accidentally backed over her Nanna but then couldn’t quite work out where the ‘Gail! Gail! You’ve run me over!’ was coming from.”
“Gail had a unique ability to make each of us feel special, important and relevant.”
“Gail was convinced if we understood the past, it would enrich the present and position us better to face the future.”
“She hated horror movies – she was so scared of them. I went over one day and she was hiding behind four pillows screaming. She was in her 30s. She was watching Ghostbusters.”
“Gail’s sequence of securing her preferred outcomes was first logic and rational argument, then if that failed emotional eloquence was bought to bare, then if that failed and she was dealing with some boofhead, then quite unashamedly the dimples came into play and invariably, as Gail bragged, success was secured.”